By MATMEN, Tuesday, 12:05 a.m.
PALM COAST — For the top two area teams in last weekend’s 37th annual Flagler Rotary tournament, it was a weekend of highlights.
Third-place Matanzas had its best showing in the Rotary since 2019, when the Pirates also took third as a team — but that team had no finalists. This year’s had five, including two champions.
Fourth-place Bartram Trail had never finished fourth as a team at Rotary before, matching Matanzas’ two titles, with a third finalist and three additional placers.
The two-day tournament had Harmony and Winter Springs go 1-2, perhaps as expected in this year’s field, but there were seven area teams in the top 10, as host Flagler Palm Coast was fifth (140.5 points), Oakleaf sixth (139.5), Gulf Breeze seventh (132), Creekside eighth (131) and DeLand ninth (121).
In the second 10, Bishop Kenny was 11th with 111 points, followed by Lake Brantley (12th, 90), Nease (13th, 86), Fletcher (14th, 83), Ridgeview (15th, 75.5), Deltona (16th, 74), Sandalwood (17th, 72), Forest (18th, 54) and both Lyman & Terry Parker (T-19th, 46).
Apopka was 22nd, with 40 points, while West Port was 23rd (31.5), Palatka 24th (30.5), Ponte Vedra 25th (27), St Johns Country Day 26th (19), Bolles & University (Orange City) T-27th (17), Lake Howell 29th (14) and St Augustine 30th (10).
Matanzas’ two individual titles came at the lower-weight bookend from Timothy McLean (106) and Kaden Golder (113), who became Flagler County’s first Rotary champions since 2018.
McLean (2A-3rd) had a bye into the quarters; from there, he sandwiched a 6-1 semifinal win over Gulf Breeze’s Garrett Ferguson (2A-8th) with pins in the quarters over Ridgeview and again in the championship over Harmony’s Tristan Horn (3A-14th), this time in 3:40. Horn got first takedown, but it was all McLean after that, with a takedown in the first period and two big 3-point turns en route to the fall.
Golder (2A-13th) pinned his way out of the third seed to the title, with Friday pins over Winter Springs and Creekside, then a semifinal pin (2:37) over Gulf Breeze’s Aiden Macken (2A-9th) to get to the final and top seed Carmen DiBella of Bartram Trail. Golder got takedowns in both the first and second periods, taking a 5-0 lead before getting a turn and fall in 2:36.
Bartram Trail collected titles from its senior stars, Ethan Vugman at 126 and John McNames at 182.
Vugman (3A-1st) proved he was fully settled in at his post-season weight, with four pins en route to the championship, including Friday falls over Nease and Lyman, and a semifinal pin Saturday over Oakleaf prior to falling Matanzas’ Toryion Stallings (2A-10th) in 2:57 for the bracket win. Vugman had a 3-point nearfall in the first period, leading by a 7-0 score when he collected the fall.
McNames (3A-9th) pinned his way into the final, with falls over Gulf Breeze, Lake Brantley and Flagler Palm Coast before facing off against 3A-#10 Gavin Rodriguez-Cayro of DeLand in the final. Both wrestlers had takedowns in the first period, with Rodriguez-Cayro taking a 3-2 lead, but McNames had an eight-point second period behind two takedowns and a 3-point turn, making those stand up in a 12-6 win.
Three area wrestlers — Gulf Breeze’s Coby Shields (120), Bishop Kenny’s Roberto Cuartero (152) and Oakleaf’s Isaiah Shevchook (195) — were solo champions for their teams.
Shields (2A-16th) earned the Panhandle’s only title of the weekend, thanks to Friday pins over West Port and Newsome; on Saturday, Shields had to go a full six minutes twice to win the championship, with a 1-0 semifinal win over Creekside’s Justin Umali (3A-13th at 120) and a 13-7 win over Harmony’s Tanner Hinman (3A-17th). That included a wild first period (10 points scored) and third period (nine), with Shields getting 3-point nearfalls in both en route to the win.
Cuartero (1A-2nd) wasn’t scored upon all weekend, earning the tournament’s Most Falls Award with four pins in a combined mat time of 6:43, taking Friday pins over Oakleaf and Harmony, and Saturday falls over DeLand’s Mathias Franz (3A-12th; fall time 2:22) in the semis and again in the final over Matanzas’ Dylan Parkinson (2A-10th), this time in 1:36. Cuartero needed only one takedown and one prior nearfall in earning the fall.
Shevchook (2A-5th) won five matches to take the 195 title out of an unseeded position, with a 3-1 round-of-16 decision over 3A-3rd Duffy Mista of Sandalwood, pins over Fletcher and Nease to get to the semis, and decisions from there over Winter Springs’ Aiden Gatton (2A-9th), 15-8, in the semis, and then in the championship over the hosts’ Dalton Schell (3A-8th), 5-3, behind a takedown with 23 seconds left in the match.
In addition to the five area wrestlers who lost in the final to a fellow area competitor, several others from the coverage area reached the final, only to finish second.
At 132, Fletcher’s Cole O’Brien (3A-4th at 126) won three times to get to the final, including a 4-3 win over top-ranked 2A-132 Ryan Phillips of Winter Springs, but lost by fall (2:42) in the final to 3A-#4 Rey Ortiz of Harmony, while 1A-2nd (138)’s Mikade Harvey of Palatka had three victories en route to the title match, where he lost by fall (4:37) to 3A-4th Shawn McCallister, also of Harmony.
145 saw Lake Brantley’s Giovanni Duany (3A-11th) bonus-point into the final, with two pins and a 12-3 major, but Duany would fall via 10-2 major decision in the championship against Newsome’s Jeremy Gradford (3A-6th). At 170, the final was a showdown of 1 vs 2 (2A-1st at 170’s Elijah Penton of Winter Springs against the 2nd-ranked 2A competitor at 182, Matanzas’ Jordan Mills). Mills had pinned his way into the final, but trailed Penton by a 7-1 count before injury-defaulting midway through the second period.
At 220, Creekside’s Eli Pagan had a pin and 8-6 decision to get to the final against Winter Springs’ Frankie Marquez, but after a 1-1 tie, it took two extra minutes to decide things, as Marquez reversed out from bottom, scoring an extra point en route to a 4-1 win. Finally, at 285, Forest’s Cane Fernandez (3A-9th) pinned his way into the final, with three falls in a little over 4 minutes of work, but he could not stop top-ranked 3A heavy Nelson Toro, who had his third pin of the tournament in 1:57.
Complete results from the tournament can be found HERE.